130630 Wing 6 a side DSC 0311

 

On Sunday the annual Norfolk and Suffolk Wing 6-a-side football competition was held at the North Walsham F.C. Football ground in Norfolk and as usual Felixstowe Sqn put together a full squad of ten players for the tournament:

  • Myself (Cpl Luke Hammond)-Team manager/Captain
  • Cpl Nat Adams
  • Cdt Harley Barkes
  • Cdt Ciaran Bird
  • Cdt Matthew Branton
  • Cdt Chloe Coleman (F)
  • Cdt Toby Jacketts
  • Cdt George Lee
  • Cdt Chloe Saddler (F)
  • Cdt Harry Stanbridge

At the start of the event expectations were not particularly high as no team from Felixstowe Squadron had previously made it past the first round- the group stage, for as long as the Commanding Officer could remember- so at least the seven years that he had been part of the Squadron. With this in mind we set our sights firmly on producing a series of solid performances built around a strong defence to try and make it to the knockout rounds and end this record.

The group stage consisted of five matches (there were six teams per group) with the winner and runner up in each of the four groups progressing to the knockout rounds.

During the course of our five matches our defence proved unbreakable whenever it was called upon and we were able to build numerous attacking positions from this, resulting in goals in all but one of the matches. With the majority of goals from well-worked open play and a couple after the group stage out goal tally consisted of numerous successes for our main scoring threats: Messer’s Adams, Bird and Jacketts.

The results from our five matches were successive wins of 3-0; 2-0; 1-0 and 2-0 and a 0-0 draw in our final group match. Some excellent results in which we dominated our opponents in every area of play and saw some fantastic individual performances amongst the fantastic collective determination and cohesion of the team.

Finally we had done it; we had progressed through the group stage! More than that we had won the group with 13 points from a possible 15; four wins and a goalless draw; 8 goals scored and none conceded- we were not only surpassing expectations but also breaking Squadron records for recent years.

Our opponents for the quarter final match were 42F (King’s Lynn) Sqn which we knew meant a tough match that could not be taken lightly. As we had predicted the match had be close, yielding a few attempts on goal for our opponents which was the first time in the tournament that our opponents had really beaten our defence and tested me in goal, but fortunately I was up to the challenge. Eventually after a handful of chances for both sides, the deadlock was broken by an ambitious cross-come-shot which deceived the 42F Goalkeeper and resulted in a wonder-goal for Cdt George Lee from his own half of the pitch in the right-back defensive position. It was a good 1-0 result against tough opponents and progression to the semi-finals. This now meant we stood a 3/4 chance of coming home with a medal. But first we would have to defeat the reigning champions: 222 (Broadlands) Sqn; widely thought of as the sportiest Squadron in the Wing.

As we expected, this would prove to be our toughest game of the tournament but in spite of this the first half was a fairly even match between the two teams and we took a 1-0 lead. The second half however was far harder as 222 Sqn piled on the pressure and dominated possession. We only had a few chances on the counter attack in the second half but our defence still held firm until the final 2-3 minutes when 222 Sqn produced a goal almost out of nowhere to equalise. With the match level at the final whistle the game was to be settled by a penalty shootout which proved to be our undoing. Despite a series of penalty saves from both keepers the nail-biting shootout finished in Felixstowe’s only defeat of the tournament; a 2-1 loss in a penalty shootout to the defending champions.

Although the team’s initial reaction was one of dejection it was down to me as player manager to raise the team morale for the third place play-off ahead.

The opponents we faced were Dereham Sqn; the team that finished as runners up in our group that we had already beaten 2-0 in our group match, a fact I reminded the team of in one final team talk. We had played well all tournament, scoring plenty of goals and dominating the entire match when we previously faced these opponents in the group stage; if we did it before why not a second time? We deserved those bronze medals and we were going to make sure we went home with them! With this final rallying speech concluded we set about our task of earning the reward we knew we deserved.

Well the prospect of this medal lifted the team to another inspired performance in which we dominated our opponents in every respect scoring three goals in fairly quick succession for a 3-0 lead halfway through the second half of the 20 minute match. After this there were few chances for our opponents to breach our thus far impenetrable defence but for one shot right at the end of the match unfortunately though this diverted the effort away from where I in goal was expecting it and therefore out of my reach. But to the relief of myself and Cdt Lee, the ball may have beaten the keeper, but not the woodwork! The deflected effort ricocheted off the inside of both the near post, then the far post and away to safety at the feet of one of the other 356 defenders. It seemed luck was on our side for another clean sheet as well as the match victory. With that the final whistle went; we had done it: we were the Bronze medallists!

All that remained now was the presentation ceremony, where we collected our well deserved medals from the Wing Commander, along with the silver medallists; Lowestoft Sqn, and the trophy to the winners: (for the third year in succession) 222 Broadlands Sqn.

During this competition we not only achieved more than we had ever predicted but also produced some statistics to be proud of; as well as those already mentioned we only conceded one goal during open play during the entire tournament, keeping seven clean sheets in eight matches; the best defensive record in the tournament, better even than the winners 222 Sqn. This was by far the best performance by a team from 356 in this competition in at least seven years; so a final well done from me to each and every member of the team, this was truly a monumental team effort that required outstanding commitment and performance from every single member of the squad: we did the Squadron proud!

 

 

Cpl Hammond

356 (Felixstowe) Sqn-3rd place & Bronze medallists; Norfolk & Suffolk Wing 6-a-side football competition 2013.


Have a look in our Photos section for more pictures !

 

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